Why Do Victims of Sexual Sexual Abuse Need a Lawyer?

Most people know that sexual abuse of a child is a crime. In the criminal case, however, the prosecutor does NOT represent the abuse victim. The victim may be a witness in the case, but his or her best interests may or may not be well represented. If you are a victim of clergy sexual abuse and feel your needs are not being represented, you may want to find a lawyer to represent YOU. You may even want to contact a lawyer if the state has decided not to prosecute the accused in criminal court because of insufficient evidence or the time that has elapsed since the abuse occurred. You may still have recourse for your suffering.

Most states have a statue of limitations on sexual abuse. This is the time period in which the perpetrator may be prosecuted or sued. Time varies from state to state and is generally longer for cases involving children. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible is important, so that he or she can assess if you can still bring suit against the perpetrator.

What Are The Legal Issues?

Of course there are legal issues in every claim for childhood sex abuse. The main issue that is always a consideration is the statute of limitations of the particular state that you were abused in. Some states are better and some states are just awful.  Before we can take your case we need to gather enough information from you so that we can determine if a claim can be brought without getting kicked out of court.  If a claim is not filed within the prescribed statute of limitations the victim is forever barred from bringing a claim. Sometimes the statute can be overcome if we can prove concealment or fraud on the part of the institution but every case is reviewed individually and if it’s a close call, the answer is not always clear. We realize that it is not always possible but we urge any victim who has been abused to come forward as soon as possible after the abuse so that your chances of healing and recovery are increased exponentially. The bottom line is that you should meet with me as soon as possible to avoid statute of limitation problems.

How Do I Choose the Right Sex Abuse Lawyer?

If you are a victim of clergy sexual abuse, you should find a lawyer who is experienced at handling your type of case. There is no single right way to find a good lawyer. Most people start with the phone book or a recommendation from someone they know and trust. The Internet is also a good resource for finding lawyers in your area.

Once you have identified some potential lawyers in your area, ask the following questions:

  • Does the lawyer provide a free consultation?
  • What are the fee arrangements? In lawsuits, many lawyers offer a contingency fee arrangement, where you only have to pay them if you win your case.
  • Has the lawyer handled clergy sexual abuse cases before? How often, and what were the outcomes?
  • Can the lawyer provide a client reference from a previous, similar case?
  • How long has the lawyer been in practice? Where is he or she licensed? Most of the time, the lawyer needs to be licensed in your state to represent you in court.
  • If the lawyer is not comfortable handling your case, can he or she provide reference to another lawyer who can?

Finding a lawyer experienced and skilled at representing clergy sexual abuse victims can help you get the representation you deserve. Remember: there is a statute of limitations on sexual abuse. If you delay in contacting a lawyer, it may result in an inability to receive compensation for your suffering.

How Do We Prepare Your Sex Abuse Claim?

We know it is difficult to talk about.  Attorney Sam Rogatinsky will speak to you to discuss the circumstances of your case. We look at a number factors but one of the first things we examine is the type of abuse you suffered. Unfortunately we need to document the abuse and this involves getting the details. We need to observe you and learn how the abuse affected you. Some people will become psychologically impaired after being abused while others will repress their feelings or become hardened and distant.

Each case that we see is different and it is important to evaluate your mental condition before we file a law suit.  Lawsuits are not taken lightly by the church and they will do what they can to refute your claim. You need to be ready both physically and emotionally because once a law suit is started, it takes on a life of its own and you may not be happy with some of the things that are said by the abuser.

You will also need to go over the dates, times of abuse and the frequency of the abuse. Of course, the dates don’t have to be exact and nobody is expecting you to know that but we will need to develop a time line with the different events that occurred before and after the abuse. After I gather all this information I will make a personal assessment of how the abuse affected your life.

Once we decide to take your case we are going to insist that you see a properly trained therapist who has experience dealing with victims of childhood sexual abuse. After a psychological evaluation, I will determine the need and scope of future medical and psychological treatment.  Whether the abuse happened last week or in the last decade, the therapist will be able to tell me your state of mind and your ability to go through a legal battle that may end up in litigation for quite some time.

What Are The Next Steps?

If you or someone you know has been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, we invite you to call me – Samuel Rogatinsky at Rogatinsky & Matthews and I will review and respond to your claim as soon as possible. All information regarding this topic will always remain confidential.

What Are The Consequences Of Sex Abuse?

The main problems that people have after being sexually abused are helplessness, hopelessness, and shame. We are here to tell you that there is nothing to be ashamed of and we understand the pain you are going through on a daily basis.  We have also noticed that survivors of childhood sexual abuse tend to withdraw emotionally and intellectually.

How Do I Protect My Child from Sexual Abuse?

“Child sexual abuse is something we all have to be concerned about. It really does take a village to raise a child, but much of what will keep our children safe must be learned in the home. And parents need to take that responsibility very seriously.”

-Karel R. Amaranth, executive director of the J.E. and Z.B. Butler Child Advocacy Center at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York

Protecting your child from sexual abuse involves an array of communicative measures that reach far beyond “don’t talk to strangers”. Although avoiding strangers is an important aspect of your child’s safety, most sexual perpetrators are known to their victims and their victim’s family. Here are seven steps that you and your children can take to avoid child sex abuse:

  1. Basic Sex Education: You should teach your child some fundamental truths about human sexuality at a very young age. You don’t need to go into the details of anatomy and sexual reproduction, but you should teach your children that no one should touch the “private” parts of his or her body.
  2. Your Children’s Bodies Are Their Own: Teach your kids that their bodies belong to themselves and to no one else. It is okay for them to refuse a hug or certain kinds of physical contact if it makes them uncomfortable.
  3. Strong, Transparent Communication: Develop effective communication skills with your children. Encourage them to talk about their experiences. If you find some of their experiences unpleasant or wrong, help them find the right path. Be slow to anger.
  4. Know Who Your Children Spend Time With: Get to know your children’s friends and their friends’ families. Remember, sexual abuse typically occurs between individuals that know each other.
  5. Transportation Rules: Make sure that your children know not to get into a vehicle with anyone without your permission. Even if your child knows the driver, they should not enter the vehicle without your approval.
  6. Bolster Your Child’s Confidence: Teach your children that sexual advances from “grown-ups” are wrong and illegal. Encourage them to be assertive and communicate their unwillingness to participate in immoral and illegal sexual acts.
  7. Listen to Your Children: Sexual abuse against children often goes unreported because the child feels too ashamed or confused to talk about it. In some cases, the abuse goes unreported because a parent or other authority figure refuses to believe the child. In your home, encourage clear, open communication. Tell your children about some of your negative experiences and mistakes throughout life. This will help them understand that they are not alone when they experience something negative. Creating an environment that bolsters open communication can be uncomfortable at times, but it is healthy and it teaches your children that good communication is not always easy.

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